I saw “A Note to my Former Self” as the title to a post on someone else’s blog this morning as I was logging on to WordPress. I was somewhat neurotically checking my stats on the dashboard, “Is anyone paying attention to me today?”–it’s not really as bad as I make it sound but it pays to be aware of your motivations and I’ll admit that many of mine are selfish, or at least self oriented.
Anyway, I began to consider that maybe it’s time to write that post–the note to the me that was. The fact that the whole idea is as appealing as a back wax tells me it’s something that needs to be done.
The problem is that I don’t really like the me I used to be. Years ago when I first met Zach Even-Esh at the Level 1 Underground Strength cert, he encouraged me to use my story. It would resonate with a lot of people, he said, and I could use it to expand my business reach and help more people.
I kinda half-assed that one. I would allude to it in conversation from time to time with clients and would dance lightly around the subject in blog posts, but it wasn’t until I wrote Agoge Defined that I really addressed the subject and stated it for what it was. I was a pot head.
Which if you really think about it is a pretty lame addiction. And addicted I was. That put me in a funny place, beating myself up for being an addict in the first place and then beating myself up for not being addicted to a “real” drug. I mean, wouldn’t beating crack or heroin be more substantial? Who gets street cred for dumping a pot habit?
Marijuana is known as a fairly benign drug, and it is really. What I had to learn was that it’s not so much the drug, but what you bring to the drug.
For some people food is a drug. We’ve all heard the stories of people who become so obese they literally have to be cut out of their houses. That is an addiction, but no one would reasonably blame food as the culprit.
So, today I’m writing a letter to myself–only I’m not really doing that yet, am I? It’s so much easier to talk to you, to just tell you about what and who I was than it is to speak to that former self…I didn’t expect it to be this hard…Okay, here goes.
Just what the f*ck were you thinking?
Were you even thinking?
No, now as I think about it I realize you weren’t. You were just a scared little rabbit trying to avoid the wolf, running as fast as you could.
I could sit here and detail all the stupid things you’ve done, the risks you took, the big mistakes that somehow, by the grace of God, you managed to miss facing the consequences for, things like: dealing to support your habit, keeping felony size quantities of marijuana in your house, and other risks that involved not only you but your wife and children as well, but I know your motivations. I also know they don’t excuse any of your actions, but I understand how blinded they made you to their potential consequences.
You think you’re owed something. You think because of all the previous injustices in your life that you get this pass.
Dave, you’re not and you don’t.
Nobody owes you anything, ever. Your are not entitled a life, you earn it. If you have the faith and the strength of character to pay it forward, to actually do something in and for the world, you might be surprised by the return, but nothing will ever come to you if all you ever do is sit and sulk and try to make yourself feel better.
Grow up. Become the man you could be instead living like the boy you’ve always been.
Understand becoming a man does not mean just “sucking it up.” Although there may be times when that is called for, a man faces his issues. He recognizes that everyone has their own problems, hurts and injustices and he helps no one by wallowing in his own misery or wearing it out on his sleeve.
A man does his work. He sees that his path in this life has a purpose but that he can’t begin that purpose until he’s first dealt with his own personal obstacles.
The good news, Dave, is that you’re capable of overcoming those obstacles, but it’s time for you to get to work.
Don’t worry, I’ll be waiting for you on the other side.